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“Dark, Heartless And In No Position To Criticize”: It’s Time For Dick Cheney To Get Off The Stage

In the midst of the Crimean crisis, Dick Cheney saw fit to undermine the commander in chief. “I also think he hasn’t got any credibility with our allies,” Cheney said Sunday on a CBS News broadcast, speaking of President Obama.

That’s unseemly, to say the least, in a foreign policy crisis. A once-high official simply does not say such things about a sitting president, by protocol; George W. Bush is scrupulously silent these days. It’s just Cheney’s latest outrage; keeping track is like counting cattle.

Who asked him, anyway? Charlie Rose, hosting Bob Schieffer’s Sunday show, “Face The Nation.” Rose apparently had not heard of a famous declaration by a Republican senator, one swell Arthur Vandenberg, that “politics stops at the water’s edge.” Cozy with his Southern charm, Rose did not challenge Cheney’s bald, ugly assertion about President Obama, laced with an edge malice. Old pro Schieffer, my favorite CBS Newsman, wouldn’t let an unpatriotic line go by so easy.

Why wasn’t Cheney back home on the range in Wyoming, where the deer and the antelope play — all the better to hunt? Let him leave us in peace and spend more time with his family.

The country knew of Cheney’s glaring influence inside the Bush White House and its wars of choice. Less known is that the former president and Cabinet colleagues had grown weary of Cheney’s sharp style and he’d eventually lose his place in the power scheme. The man who ducked every chance to serve in uniform during the Vietnam War seemed to see himself leading “on the field of battle” in a dark shadowy conflict. He took the tragedy of September 11 into other spheres as well and masterminded scaring us into surrendering our civil liberties.

Yet Cheney’s star began to wane about six years into the Bush presidency, according to Peter Baker, the author of “Days of Fire.” This was about the time Bush himself fell out of public favor.

By then, the nation was weary of war, especially the empty grounds for the Iraq War. At home, Bush’s cavalier reaction to the 2005 Hurricane Katrina drowning of New Orleans awakened the nation out of a slumber. So, of course, not all the failings of his presidency had Cheney’s fingerprints on them.

But back home on the Texas ranch, Bush himself wrote in his memoir that Cheney had “become a lightning rod for criticism from the media and the left. He was seen as dark and heartless — the Darth Vader of the administration.”

Cheney has not lightened up since.


By: Jamie Stiehm, Washington Whispers, U. S. News and World Report, March 11, 2014

March 13, 2014 Posted by | Dick Cheney, Foreign Policy, Ukraine | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“John McCain, Popularity Poll Truther?”: The People Have Spoken, Those Bastards

Public Policy Polling may say that John McCain is the least popular senator in America, but the Arizona Republican isn’t buying it.

Last week, PPP released a poll finding that just 30 percent of Arizonans approve of the job that Senator McCain is doing, while 54 percent disapprove. That makes him the least popular member of the Senate, according to PPP.

During a Monday appearance on Fox Business’ Cavuto, McCain pushed back against the numbers.

“There is a bogus poll out there,” McCain said. “I can sense the people of my state. When I travel around, which I do constantly, they like me, and I am very grateful.”

If McCain’s confidence in his ability to “sense” his true popularity reminds you of Republicans who were certain that 2012 polls were wrong, and that Mitt Romney would cruise to victory in the presidential election, you aren’t alone. Public Policy Polling director Tom Jensen responded to McCain’s attack against his poll by reminding the fifth-term senator of the dangers of poll trutherism.

“We’ve used the same methodology to measure the approval ratings of more than 85 senators in their home states, and Senator McCain has the worst approval numbers of any of them,” Jensen told Talking Points Memo. “That’s because he’s unpopular within his own party and unlike other Republican senators who have a reputation for working across party lines — the Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowskis of the world — he hasn’t earned much popularity with Democrats either.”

“I think we saw in 2012 what happens when Republicans try to just dismiss and ignore poll findings that they don’t like,” he added.

Were Jensen feeling boastful, he could also have noted that a Fordham University analysis found PPP to be the most accurate predictor of the 2012 election.

During his interview with Cavuto, McCain also took a moment to address his political future. Although he said that he is “seriously considering” running for Senate again in 2016, he reiterated that he has no interest in another presidential bid.

“I’m afraid that it is not a viable option,” he said.

McCain has shut down previous inquiries about his presidential ambitions by colorfully quoting the late Rep. Morris Udall: “The people have spoken — the bastards.


By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, March 11, 2014

March 13, 2014 Posted by | John McCain, Politics | , , , , | 1 Comment

“Learning The Right Lesson”: Despite Their Loss In Florida’s Special Election, Democrats Shouldn’t Panic Over November

So here we go: Republicans—and, no doubt, the Koch Brothers—are crowing that David Jolly’s win over Alex Sink in the special election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District Tuesday proves that Obamacare is the death knell for Democrats this fall. Outside groups, led by the Kochs, pumped a few million into the district, largely hitting Sink over Obamacare, which she said needed to be improved although she still trumpeted its benefits for senior citizens.

Republicans will say more: that they had a flawed candidate in Jolly, a former lobbyist; that Barack Obama carried this district in 2012. The Republicans won’t say that Obama carried it over Mitt Romney by just 2 percent, and this is the very definition of a swing district. But both of these statements are factual, and Republicans will spin them hard today and tomorrow.

Most of all, Republican spin doctors will say this is a bellwether: The Democrats put loads of money and troops into Sink’s race, precisely to prove (in a winnable district) that 2014 wasn’t going to be a disaster for them. They still couldn’t win it, which, the GOP will say, just demonstrates what a bruisin’ Democrats are cruisin’ for this fall.

No denying, they might be right. For one thing, this was one of the few Republican-held House districts (held by lifer Bill Young, whose death necessitated this special) the Democrats had a shot at taking. So on that basis alone, it’s a blow to whatever remote shot Nancy Pelosi had of moving back into the Speaker’s office.

It would be absurd to deny that Obamacare, wasn’t a factor in the race and maybe the crucial one. The outside groups went big on it, no doubt about that. But there were other issues in this race. Jolly attacked Sink for using a state plane to “get to a vacation in the Bahamas.” Politifact judged the Jolly ad half-true, but in congressional campaigns, half-true is usually true enough. The ad had bite, and that surely made some difference too. It seems to be the case that the lion’s share of the undecided swing voters broke for Jolly late in the game, and a pile of data suggests that swing voters care about good-government things like the use of state planes. Their minds were probably made up about Obamacare, so it’s not implausible that something else swung them.

But there’s no doubt that the issue going forward is going to be health care. What health-care-related lesson is each party going to take out of this? For the Republicans, it’s easy: push push push. And there’s reason for them to do so: Sink, remember, wasn’t in Congress; she didn’t even vote for the thing. Kay Hagan and Mary Landrieu and Mark Begich and all the other vulnerable Senate Democrats defending their seats this fall did.

The Democrats are likely to take, as they often do, the wrong lesson. They’ll want to run and hide. But they should look a little more closely. Sink was no warrior for Obamacare. Her campaign was a textbook exercise in trying to thread the needle (unsuccessfully). Does her loss mean that Democrats should run away from it?

I say no. Let’s watch how this result affects the Florida gubernatorial race for starters. Democrat Charlie Crist has been defending Obamacare—in terms of accepting the Medicaid money—far more aggressively than Sink did. Crist leads Republican Rick Scott in recent polls, by about seven points. Watch how hard Scott—who actually supported taking the Obamacare-Medicaid money for a short time—hits Crist on this point, and how Crist responds, and how the polls change, if they do. Rather than just getting the vapors from Sink’s loss, this is what Democrats nationally ought to be watching. If Crist’s lead shrinks, then Democrats really will run for the hills.

There’s other evidence out there in the world that Obamacare is a political disaster only if the Democrats don’t fight for it. The media didn’t write much last week about a very interesting WashPost-ABC poll result. The survey asked people if they’d be more or less likely to vote for a candidate who backed Obamacare. It came out less likely 36, more likely 34. That’s a margin of error tie, but it’s also a huge change from four months ago, when Republican opponents had a 16-point advantage in that realm. The new poll also reported that Americans said they trusted Democrats more on health care by 44 to 36 percent.

Perhaps the best evidence though that Obamacare wasn’t a real issue came from Jolly himself, who didn’t even mention the ACA in his victory speech. He told reporters later, “This was a closely run race, we know that. I don’t take a mandate from this.”

Just hours before Jolly’s victory on Tuesday night, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that 4.2 million people have signed up for health care under the ACA. By November, eight months from now, will statistics like this make more difference than what happened in Pinellas County Tuesday night? I remind you that in the one high-profile congressional special election held in the May, 2010, the Democrat won it—Mark Critz in Pennsylvania (Like Jolly, Critz was the annointed successor of a longtime incumbent as well).  Six month later, Democrats lost 63 seats in Congress. In other words, spring special elections shouldn’t be taken as harbingers.

They’re only harbingers if the losing party accepts them as harbingers. The Republicans laughed off the Critz win, sold it to the media as something that didn’t matter for November, and kept on saying they were going to win 75 seats. The Democrats need to be similarly nonchalant about this one. It’s an embarrassing loss but it’s not the end of the world, unless Democrats think it is..


By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, March 12, 2014

March 13, 2014 Posted by | Obamacare, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Low Wage Jobs Endanger Nothing”: Wall Street’s 2013 Bonuses Were More Than All Workers Earned Making The Federal Minimum

Purveyors of Ferraris and high-end Swiss watches keep their fingers crossed toward the end of each calendar year, hoping that the big Wall Street banks will be generous with their annual cash bonuses.

New figures show that the bonus bonanza of 2013 didn’t disappoint. According to the New York State Comptroller’s office, Wall Street firms handed out $26.7 billion in bonuses to their 165,200 employees last year, up 15 percent over the previous year. That’s their third-largest haul on record.

That money will no doubt boost sales of luxury goods. Just imagine how much greater the economic benefit would be if that same amount of money had gone into the pockets of minimum-wage workers.

The $26.7 billion Wall Streeters pocketed in bonuses would cover the cost of more than doubling the paychecks for all of the 1,085,000 Americans who work full-time at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

And boosting their pay in that way would give our economy much more bang for the buck. That’s because low-wage workers tend to spend nearly every dollar they make to meet their basic needs. The wealthy can afford to squirrel away a much greater share of their earnings.

When low-wage workers spend their money at the grocery store or on utility bills, this cash ripples through the economy. According to my new report, every extra dollar going into the pockets of low-wage workers adds about $1.21 to the national economy. Every extra dollar a high-income American makes, by contrast, only adds about 39 cents to the gross domestic product (GDP).

And these pennies add up.

If the $26.7 billion Wall Streeters pulled in on their bonuses last year had instead gone to minimum wage workers, our economy would be expected to grow by about $32.3 billion — more than triple the $10.4 billion boost expected from the Wall Street bonuses.

This immense GDP differential only speaks to one price we pay for Wall Street’s bonus reward culture. Huge bonuses, the 2008 financial industry meltdown made clear, create an incentive for high-risk behaviors that endanger the entire economy.

And yet, nearly four years after passage of the Dodd-Frank financial reform, regulators still haven’t implemented the modest provisions in that law to prohibit financial industry pay that encourages “inappropriate risk.” Time will tell whether last year’s Wall Street bonuses were based on high-risk gambles that will eventually blow up in our faces.

Low-wage jobs, on the other hand, endanger nothing. The people who harvest, prepare and serve our food, the folks who keep our hotels clean, and the workers who care for our elderly all provide crucial services. They deserve much higher rewards.


By: Sarah Anderson, Moyers and Company, Bill Moyers Blog, March 12, 2014; This post originally appeared at Other Words

March 13, 2014 Posted by | Economic Inequality, Executive Compensation | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Stand By It, Support It, Argue For It”: Democrats Should Run On Obamacare, Not Run From It

Alex Sink should have won the special congressional election in Florida yesterday. She had more money, she had a better resume and profile, and she was certainly a good candidate.

Florida’s 13th congressional district is a very competitive district that President Obama carried in both 2008 and 2012. True, it had been in Republican hands for a long time, but it was a good chance for the Democrats to pick up an open seat.

So, what went wrong? Hard to tell, of course, from inside the beltway, but let me offer up one thought. Sink tried to straddle health care and got caught in the middle.

As we all know, the notion that “I was for it before I was sort-of against it” does not sit well with voters. Certainly one could argue that the “fix what is wrong” strategy could work in 2014 for Democrats. But my fear is that what the voters hear is “I don’t really like Obamacare much because it may be hurting me politically.”

It is my strong belief that Democrats need to argue vociferously for the benefits of Obamacare. They need to tout what it will do for the country, for average Americans, for those without health insurance, for the economy, for keeping health care costs under control. If candidates believe they can distance themselves politically, especially after they voted in favor of it, they are making a tragic mistake. Own it. Don’t shy away from the important impact it is having now and will have in the future.

Sure, each race is different, each race will have its own dynamics, each race will have its own issues and differences among candidates. But if Democrats are hopelessly divided on health care, even at odds with themselves, they will not be able to stop the Republicans from hammering them.

By emphasizing the “mend it, don’t end it” strategy rather than the “here’s what it will do for you” strategy, Democrats are playing defense. Sure, they can use the Bill Clinton line, “We’ll be fixing it this year, will fix it next year and we’ll fix it the year after that,” but stand by it, support it, argue for it. This is the way Social Security worked and Medicare too — they were constantly amended and changed — but the end result is that they are among the most effective and popular programs ever enacted.

Gov. Mitt Romney tried to straddle the auto bailout, Republicans try obfuscating on women’s issues and Kerry tried to argue both sides of his Iraq vote. It’s hard to make those plays work.

On Obamacare, Democrats should argue strongly for it. Over the next eight months, Democrats should point to the number of people signing up, the care that people are receiving, the improvements in delivery and cost, and, most importantly, what it will accomplish in the future. Once Obamacare is fully operational, fewer people will be bankrupted by health care expenses, our populace will be healthier and the overall impact on the nation will be similar to Social Security and Medicare.

In short, if Democrats start now and double down on the issue, they will fare better in November than if they run and hide.


By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, March 12, 2014

March 13, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Democrats, Obamacare | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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